Veteran success center to open on campus next semester

The St. John’s University Student Veterans Association (SVA) is committed to providing resources for our student veterans who have sacrificed their lives to serve and protect our nation.

In January, the SVA will open the Veterans Success Center, where members of the SVA will hold weekly meetings and program activities and events.

The SVA was formed in the fall of last year.

“The idea for the Students Veterans Association came about two summers ago, when student veterans approached me about starting a campus organization for veterans,” said Mary Pelkowski, associate dean of Student Engagement and SVA advisor.

According to the St. John’s SVA brochure, “The mission of the St. John’s University Student Veterans Association (SJUSVA) is to support stude
nt veterans at St. John’s University in their pursuit of higher education.

“The Student Veterans Association assists student veterans in successfully transitioning from military service to University life through networking opportunities, resources, community service and advocacy,” according to the SVA brochure.

“SJU SVA is committed to supporting veterans with their post military adjustment and improving the quality of their University experience.”

The top five pillars of the SVA are academics, career, leadership, service and transition.

The president of the SVA Charles Taylor shared how he got his start with the association.

“My involvement with the SVA happened my first semester at SJU,” said Taylor.

“I attended an Open House for Student Veterans in August 2012. From there, I showed up to the meetings and involved myself with the association.”

“The reason I decided to help out was due to my own re-acclimation issues after being discharged from the military. I had been out of the military for 2
½ years and had 3 different jobs before coming back to school at
the age of 30,” Taylor said.

“As president of the SVA, I work with university administration and veterans to increase mentorship programs, career advisement programs and networking possibilities.

“While still serving as president of the SVA during my last semester, I
assisted in the establishment of the new veterans success center, incorporating various services.

The SVA also advances student veteran success and helps in improving their mental and physical health,” Taylor said.

Taylor also shared his hopes for SVA.

“My vision for the next 3 to 5 years is for us to expand our network within the local community.
We would also like to expand our association throughout the network of clubs and organizations on campus for the imperative need for raised general awareness of veterans.

“This could be a roundtable event, or an open forum with veterans, students and university employees conversing about what it means to be a veteran.

The Veterans Success Center will carry on the legacy of the lifeblood of veterans that have attended St. John’s since its inception, where a Civil War veteran attended and graduated.”